Landscaping to Make a Difference

In the Eastern U.S., the crop that takes up the largest acreage isn’t corn, hay, or soybeans—it’s mowed lawns.

Our manicured lawns have a major impact on our surrounding environment, especially since a majority of modern yards sport non-native grasses and plants. Non-natives often require fertilizers to thrive in this region— chemicals that make their way into our nearby watersheds. Then there’s the desire to have perfectly green, clipped grass—meaning today’s lawns can require of a lot of water and gasoline.

It may be hard to imagine the impact landscaping practices have on our environment when you look at one lawn in Loudoun. If you take that lawn, however, and multiply it by the 93,336 single-family homes in the County, the scale of the impact becomes much more real.

Yet, there is a silver lining: individual landowners can make a significant difference by simply adjusting their landscaping habits. PEC staff recognized this chance to make a change, and we are working to get the word out through our Sustainable Landscaping Workshop series.

“It’s a part of PEC’s mission to work toward healthy local streams and environment,” says Gem Bingol, one of PEC’s Land Use Officers in Loudoun, “and we know that will happen more easily if everyone in the community takes an active role.”

PEC received a grant from Fairfax Water to promote further efforts to keep Loudoun’s streams clean and healthy. Since last May, PEC has used this funding to host our series of landscaping workshops for Loudoun residents.

These workshops are free, and feature experts in landscaping, gardening, backyard habitat creation, and more. Participants are given the information they need to start a variety of sustainable landscaping practices, while learning more about the connection between their yard and the surrounding environment.

“By using sustainable landscaping practices,” Bingol explains, “residents will not only positively impact the environment, but they can also reduce the time and money spent on their yards.”

Bingol plans to expand the program beyond workshops to include field trips—including visits to a local water treatment plant and a canoe trip on Goose Creek.

“There is a saying: ‘We all live downstream,’” says Bingol. “We all have a responsibility to help keep local waters clean because, ultimately, we are all impacted by the people around us.”

To learn more about upcoming Sustainable Landscaping Workshops and field trips, or if you are interested in having a workshop in your area, contact Gem Bingol at